This morning, while clearing a drawer, I came across some printed papers lodged between the pages of an old magazine. Curious, I paused to read the writings. I found out it was my son's, Andrew, account of his first experience of snow when he was at John Hopkins, in Baltimore. Here is his account, written thirteen years ago.
HOMEWOOD IN THE SNOW
By Andrew Wan
On the 19th of January, 2002 (Audrey's fifth month birthday), I wake up to the sight of snowflakes drifting outside the window. Snow! The snowfall lasts all morning, and extends into the afternoon unabated. After my afternoon siesta, I decide not to lose the valuable opportunity of having a walk in the snowy landscape. So, with scarf, gloves and a camera, out I go.
There is a wood close to home, and thus Homewood gets its name. On the way to campus, I pass a lovely White Forest. For the first time, the trees look good without their cloak of greenery.
'I'm dreaming of a White Christmas,
Just like the one I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow'
I like the way the ebony branches of the leaveless trees are draped with snow. It's as if Mother Nature is matching black and white on purpose, and clothing the trees with the finest hosiery of winter.
I am inside the campus now, looking again at the silver forest that skirts Homewood. My hands are cold as I remove my gloves to capture the pristine scenery on film.
A sight unseen in warmer climates. A snow truck ploughs the snow-laden Homewood field. Today, at least, Man regulates his activities around Nature.
I'm getting into the campus proper now. The lamp post stands as an unflinching guardian in the cold. Unseen in the photo, snowflakes are drifting into my frame and biting my naked hands. I alternate constantly between the gloves and the camera.
I arrive at the clock-tower, whose reverberating chimes often urge me to hurry for the shuttle bus or give up altogether, on work days. Today, it provides an ideal backdrop to the abundant over-hanging branches of a silver-lined trees, and an ideal background to a smiling me.
I had initially thought myself peculiar in my photo-snapping frenzy. That was until I realised a whole cohort of trigger happy Hopkins people were in the immediate vicinity as well, engaged in the same activity! Li, whom I had met at the Department Christmas Party engaged my help to capture her photo, and her husband returned my favour.
I arrive at the Lower Quadrant of the Homewood Campus, taking care when negotiating the icy staircase. It is crisp and clear now, and a certain freshness infuses into my spirit, the likes of which I have never experienced for a long, long time. Wish you were here ......
Like the icy path stretching out to an unseen destination, we have a long way to go. The way is not always clear, but we have the lights to guide us, And slowly but surely, we learn to see the beauty that surrounds us as we walk on.